Thursday, April 10, 2014

Weekend Preview: April 11th - 13th, 2014

Spore Project 2014 - Orlando - Doug Rhodehamel

If this weekend had a keyword, it would have to be "performance." From acting, painting, and rocking out to drag racing and zombies, it's hard not to find something to meet your taste this weekend.

All Weekend

It's the last weekend of the 2014 Florida Film Festival, an Oscar-qualifying festival! Individual movie tickets are $9 before 5:00pm and $11 after that, so check out the program for films, guests, parties, and panels. Tip: Stop by the Enzian's outdoor tents for freebies and games.

This week is the weekend-long Orlando White Party at the Parliament House. Wear all-white and come on by to meet your favorite RuPaul Drag Race contestants, enjoy drink specials, and, of course, the shows.

Bonus: Thursday, April 10th

Things to do in Sanford - Alive After 5 - Thursday block party
It's the second Thursday of the month, and for Sanford...ians? that means Alive After 5 is going on in downtown historic Sanford. $7 gets you into the street party and includes food and beverage samplings. This month's theme: pirates.

That also means April 10th is the 2nd Thursday Thornton Park Wine & Art Walk. Grab a $10 glass, map, and stamp, and check out over two dozen locations to see art and get a complimentary drink...and hopefully no alcohol poisoning.

This month's Nerd Nite XIV includes topics Downtown Dinosaurs, Schools Never Learn, and a very special Scientific Sermon. 7:00pm at Stardust Video & Coffee; Free! What's Nerd Nite, you ask? Read our interview with the Nerd Boss himself, here.

Unity Yoga is a pay-what-you-can yoga session happening Thursday at 6:00pm at The Orange Studio on Mills.

Friday, April 11th

This Friday, Downtown Credo presents Local Bands & Brews. Starting at 8:00pm at the awesome Warehouse on Brookhaven (1300 Brookhaven Drive) there will be three local bands, four local brewers (including Redlight's Brent Hernandez), and La Empanada food truck. $10 suggested donation; 21+.

Watch your backs, Second Thursday events, there's a new art stroll in town: The 2nd Friday Mount Dora Art Stroll (which isn't that new, I just said that for effect) is going on this weekend. From 6:00 to 8:00pm, walk the historic town and tour up to a dozen different locations.

Saturday, April 12th

Grab you black turtlenecks and bongos*, it's the Second Saturday: Local Poet Showcase at the downtown library starting at 2:00pm. (*The bringing of bongos is actually frowned upon.)

For more free performances, visit Loch Haven Park this Saturday at 6:00pm for a complimentary outdoor concert of Peter & The Wolf and other Musical Stories. Presented by the Dr. Phillips Charities and the Orlando Phil, the event starts with an instrument petting zoo at 4:30pm. Picnics and seating encouraged!

Crawling Dead Pub Crawl, anyone? Tickets are $15 online ($20 at the door). Dress up and meet at Wall Street Plaza at 6:30pm, or spend a little extra and get zombiefied by a professional makeup artist.

Sunday, April 13th

If you only catch on showing during the Florida Film Festival, make sure it's Florida Shorts: The Best of Brouhaha this Sunday at 2:00pm at Regal Winter Park. This is your chance to see 14 of the best local student and indie shorts and get a taste for current cinema in Florida.

The Timucua White House is hosting another one of its intimate house concerts. This Sunday's show features jazz saxaphonist James Brandon Lewis, so bring some drinks and food to share and enjoy; 7:00pm.

What are you doing this weekend, Orlando? Leave a comment below!

Title image by Doug Rhodehamel. Keep your eyes peeled for this year's Spore Project around town.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday Nights in Orlando *Updated*

Downtown Orlando at Night, Tuesdays, by Deborah Sandidge

It's Tuesday and you're not sure what events are going on or what places to go in Orlando? As a follow up to Monday Nights in Orlando, here are some things to do in and around Downtown for those of you who can't wait for the weekend:

Get Your Groove On

Dirty Bingo / Cabaret in Orlando, Florida
Tuesdays at Independent Bar (70 N Orange Ave) is Grits & Gravy night. Come dance to your favorite soul and rock jams from the 1950s through '70s, including the Rolling Stones and Aretha. Doors open at 10:00pm and drink specials are $2.50 whiskeys and PBRs all night (because whiskey and cokes on a Tuesday always end well...).

Get Dirty

Every Tuesday night at 9:30pm, Stardust Lounge (431 E Central Blvd) hosts Dirty Bingo Night. This retro-inspired basement lounge features a variety of risqué events throughout the week, but one of the most popular is bingo. The way it works is that you get a game card with every drink you buy. The "dirty" part is that all the prizes are furnished by Fairvilla.  If you don't know what Fairvilla is (or you do and it makes you blush), this event might not be for you.

Get Singing

Wall Street Plaza's newer concept, Shine, is the host of Korndogg's Karaoke at 10:00pm every Tuesday night. The new venue has a mix of industrial elements, steampunk mechanics, and an old moonshine warehouse vibe (yes, that means $2 moonshine). While there, stop by Taco Tuesday at the Wall Street Cantina for $2.00 tacos, Coronas, and tequila shots.

Get Listening

Austin's Coffee (929 W Fairbanks Ave), the 24-hour coffee shop / restaurant / bar, features an open mic night every Tuesday around 8:00pm.

See poetry as a team sport? Check out Diverse Word, Orlando's favorite spoken word / poetry tag night at Dandelion Communitea Cafe. Every Tuesday from 8:00 to 10:00pm, poets and lovers of spoken word congregate outside the cafe to celebrate and cheer on their fellow humans.

Get Hungry

Tasty Tuesdays Food Trucks Orlando Milk DistrictThe hippest food truck meetup in town is Tasty Tuesdays in the Milk District.  From 6:30 to 10:00pm, eat at different food trucks each week, have a drink at one of the bars, and hang out with your favorite Orlandoans. (Located in the back parking lots of The Milk BarEtoile BoutiqueSpacebar, and Sandwich bar.)

Awesome deal alert! Dexter's Thornton Park (808 E Washington St) has a $1 Burger Night every Tuesday starting at 5:00pm; additional toppings are 50 cents.

Get Guessing
Tuesday Trivia Nights in Orlando / Central Florida
Catch Earth Trivia every Tuesday night at Cafe Red Downtown (7:00pm), Buffalo Wings & Rings (6:00pm), Smokey Bones (8:30pm), Piper's Bar & Grill (8:00 and 10:00pm), Wildside BBQ (8:00pm), Graffiti Junktion - Lake Mary (7:00pm), Graffiti Junktion - Oviedo (7:00 and 9:00pm), The End Zone (7:00pm), and Copper Rocket Pub (7:00pm). Phew, that's a lot of trivia...

Any geeks out there? Head on over to The Geek Easy from 7:00 to 9:00pm for food and beer specials and a chance to claim your title as King of the Nerds at Geek Trivia Tuesdays.

Tuesday is also the day for Ivanhoe Trivia at The Hammered Lamb. The trivia is hosted by Ivanhoe Village Manager, Scottie Campbell, and runs from 6:00 to 8:30pm.

Bonus: Monthly Events

Second Tuesdays

  • For live storytelling, check out There Will Be Words, held at Gallery at Avalon Island (39 S Magnolia Ave) every second Tuesday of the month promptly at 7:00pm. Come out and listen to some of the best local writing talent at this free event.

What's your favorite Tuesday night event in Orlando? Comment below!

Title photo by Deborah Sandidge

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Weekend Preview: April 4th - 6th, 2014

Florida Film Festival 2014 - Orlando, Susan Sarandon, Independent and Foreign Movies

Um, perfect weekend, anyone? And we're not just talking about the weather: check out this weekend's live music shows, film screenings, art exhibits, pillow fights, drag brunches, and garage sales!

All Weekend

The ten-day Florida Film Festival is back for the 23rd time, with 173 feature films and shorts from 26 countries,  parties, panels, food, celebrities, and more. Individual tickets are $9 before 5:00pm and $11 after that, with a few free showings throughout the week. Be sure to review the schedule for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Florida Film Festival 2014 - Things to do in Orlando this Weekend

Yes, we mostly go out on the weekend to eat, drink, and be merry. But if you're trying to impress your friends (or hey, you actually just like art), then stop by one of these exhibits: Twitter Art Exhibit (CityArts Factory, free), Stitching the Seam (OMA, $8), Grass (The Falcon Bar, free), and The Solution (Orange Studio, free). 

This Saturday and Sunday, come to Lake Eola Park for the 25th Annual Fiesta in the Park, which means arts, crafts, food, kids' activities, and live music galore. Also, the OLE Spring Festival is taking place this weekend in front of the Jai Alai arena in Fern Park. Stop by for fair rides, food, and games.

SunRail, Central Florida's new commuter rail line, will start running in May with the first two weeks for free. To tour the trains before they start their regular schedule, stop by the Lynx Central Station this Friday from 11:00am to 1:00pm and grab lunch at one of the food trucks that will be present.

Friday, April 4th

Rachel Simmons, Julian Chambliss. Rollins College Cornell Fine Arts Exhibit. Art Orlando / Winter Park.

This is the last month before a long summer break to catch Friday Nights at the Morse, your chance to tour the museum for free from 5:00 to 8:00pm. Also, Rollins College's Cornell Fine Arts Museum is free this first Friday until 8:00pm.

There's another installment of Uptown Altamonte's Friday Night Live at Cranes Roost Park from 7:00 to 9:00pm. Bring chairs or blankets, enjoy the live music, and grab some food and drinks from the vendors.

Another way to enjoy this awesome weather is by heading to Date Night at Leu Gardens, the monthly outdoor movie, screening Gravity this Friday at 8:30pm. The gardens open at 6:00pm, admission is $6 adults / $3 children / free for members. So grab those blankets and some wine--but no funny business!

Saturday, April 5th

Ashley Belanger of the Orlando Weekly said it best: this Saturday's DeLandapalooza is like "an all-you-can-eat buffet of Orlando-area bands and some traveling acts, with a menu boasting something for everyone." Don't miss it as 150 bands converge on 27 stages in historic downtown DeLand, starting at 1:00pm. Tickets are $10 online and $15 at the gate (kids under 12 are free). 

Downtown DeLand Florida - Central Florida Music Festivals 2014 DeLandapalooza

This Saturday, the Central Florida British Car Breakfast Club (say that three times fast) is putting on the 30th Annual All British Car Show at Mead Gardens from 8:30am to 3:00pm. 

Listen up, thrifty-chasers: Baldwin Park's Community Garage Sale is this Saturday starting at 8:00am., with special flea market areas for even more Pinterest-worthy finds you probably don't need.

This year's Pillowlando MMXIV community pillow fight is happening at Blue Jacket Park. Gather by the fountain at 4:30pm, and don't forget your weapon. (For legal reasons I will point out that by "weapon" we mean your pillow.) 

Sunday, April 6th

Broadway Brunch at Hamburger Mary's vs. La La Gospel Brunch at East End vs. Gospel Brunch at Bananas. Warning: only two of these events are drag shows.

Stop by Orlando Brewing at 2:30pm for the 8th Anniversary Party with new releases and food trucks--don't forget your pups!

What are you doing this weekend? Share it in a comment below!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

2014 Orlando Guide to Buying Local

Orlando Guide to Buying Local

The 2014 Orlando Buy Local Shops List is out! Orlando-based adventurers Pam Evans and Roger Amundsen, of the blog mis[s]adventures of a barefooted farmer, have updated their thorough list of independent businesses in the Downtown Orlando area. This comprehensive guide covers brick-and-mortar shops as well as Orlando-based online retailers and artisans. 

Click here to download the 2014 Orlando Buy Local Shops List or check it out below:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Nights in Orlando *Updated*

Downtown Orlando Monday Nights

Jump on it: Happy Hour Quick Picks

Monday nights can be a hard sell for bars, but that means plenty of drink specials for you: $4 cocktails and 1/2 price apps at Blue Martini (4:00-8:00); 2-for-1 calls, domestics, and wine at The Hammered Lamb (4:00-7:00); and $2 domestics at Sportstown

We hate to give away all our secrets, but this one we can't keep to ourselves: the insane happy hour at Bikkuri Sushi (1915 E Colonial Dr). Bikkuri's daily happy hour (5:00-7:00) has BOGO beer, sake, wine, cocktails, and martinis, as well as sushi rolls starting at $3. Mondays, throw in some 2-for-1 margaritas, $2 sake, and 30% off seafood combos. Yeah... we weren't kidding.

Get Your Sing On

Singing karaoke at Big Daddy's in Audubon Park, Orlando
Looking for a Monday happy hour with some flair? Parliament House (410 North OBT) hosts its weekly Red Carpet Karaoke every Monday at 6:00pm, with happy hour going on from 4:00 to 9:00pm. Of course, don't forget karaoke at Big Daddy's every night, with happy hour from 4:00 to 7:00pm (3001 Corrine Dr; warning: smokey). 

Calling All Smart Asses

If you're in the mood to show off some of the esoteric trivia you're schlepping around in that brain of yours, then allow us to prescribe a good old-fashioned trivia night. Get your dose of Curtis Earth Trivia every Monday at Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux in Audubon Park (6:30pm), Nemo's in Sanford (7:30pm), Graffiti Junktion in Thornton Park (7:00pm), and The Peacock Room on Mills (7:30pm). 

Is this thing on?

Don't just go to a bar, go to a bar with an open mic night! Check out Sandwich Bar (7:00pm) every Monday or Downtown Credo every first Monday (see below) for live entertainment. But open mic night doesn't have to mean music, as shown by The Other Bar's open mic night for comedians, every Monday at 9:00pm. 

Fill up Your Grocery Basket

Monday nights from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, come to the Stardust Coffee parking lot (1842 E Winter Park Rd) for the weekly Audubon Park Community Market. Come for fresh, local groceries and stay for the prepared meals, live music, knife sharpening, and art.

Stuff Your Face

Hungry? Grab some cheap eats around Downtown Orlando on a Monday night with 50¢ wings at Chico's Tequila Bar and 50¢ oysters at Whiskey Dicks (I can only imagine that apostrophe is missing on purpose...). Also, don't forget about buy-2-get-1-free sushi rolls at Bento Cafe

Bonus: First Monday Monthly Events

How do you get over the Monday blues? Share your tip in the comments below!

Title photo by LifeAperture. All images linked to sources.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekend Preview: March 28th - 30th, 2014

Hot Air Balloon Festival Orlando New Smyrna Beach 2014
This weekend, make it a Central Florida weekend. Whether you're supporting our area's businesses and festivals, or your favorite local athletes, artists, and writers, it's a good weekend to be local in and around Orlando. 

Weekend Events

For those looking for a quick day-trip to get out of the city, we've got two great events for you: This weekend is the New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest, complete with hot air balloons, air shows, live entertainment, and more. On your way, stop by the Florida Wildflower & Garden Festival on Saturday in downtown DeLand from 9:00am to 3:00pm. 

Orlando - Kissimmee Italian CircusCirque Italia, the "first official water circus in the US," is coming to Kissimmee this Friday for a week-long stay. Various times throughout the weekend; tickets start at $10. 

Friday, March 28th

It's the last Friday of the month, and that means it's time for another Orlando Critical Mass. So grab your bikes and meet up at Loch Haven Park for a 6:00pm departure. 

Also every last Friday is the Sanford Art Walk, happening Friday from 6:00 to 9:00pm in historic downtown Sanford.

Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux is hosting another installment of APGD Trivia, this time featuring the movie Idiocracy. So grab a Mountain Dew and stop by Friday night from 7:00 to 9:00pm. 

Saturday, March 29th

It's finally here! An all-Florida version of Functionally Literate is happening this Saturday at 7:00pm at The Warehouse at Brookhaven (1300 Brookhaven Drive, off Virginia). The afterparty, complete with literary-themed cocktails, is going on at The Matador. Check out our interview series, LitOrlando, to learn more about Saturday's writers.

Functionally Literate - An Orlando Reading Series, March 2014Saturday at 1:00pm, Retromended Vintage is hosting a Garden Tea Party in the Ivanhoe-area store's courtyard. Come for the libations, stay for the people watching--and don't forget your retro tea attire.

The 5th Annual Hannibal Square Heritage Center Folk and Urban Art Festival is this Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. The festival features live music (from zydeco to African drumming), art demonstrations, hands-on kids activities, and traditional crafts. 

The Orlando City Soccer Club takes on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds this Saturday at 7:30pm in the final USL PRO Home Opener at the ESPN Wide World of Sports; tickets start at $19.

Sunday, March 30th

Orlando Bike Polo
Be sporty this Sunday and try your hand at Yoga in the Park (Lake Eola Park, 11:00am) or, for the more adventurous, check out Orlando Bicycle Polo (Langford Park, 5:00pm). Of course, you can always watch from the sidelines. 

Come out and support the Orlando Fringe production of SEASON The Musical at the Seasons Mix & Mingle Cabaret, this Sunday at 7:00pm at the City Arts Factory downtown. Tickets are $10 online; $15 cash at the door.

This Sunday, it's on: Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors at the Amway Center; tickets start at $15.

Wind down with an Acoustic Music House Concert this Stunday at 2:30pm, featuring songs of the '60s and special guest William Florian of The New Christy Minstrels. Villa ConRoy, 1521 W Ivanhoe Blvd; $12 donation. 

How are you enjoying this weekend, Orlando? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

LitOrlando: An Interview with Author David James Poissant

Orlando Author David James Poissant, by Ashley Inguanta
The third installment of LitOrlando is here just in time to prep you for this Saturday's all-Florida edition of the reading series Functionally Literate. Let's dive into Jared Silvia's interview with author David James Poissant, one of Saturday's presenters, and see what makes Orlando literary, how to combat writer's block (if there even is such a thing), and what's next for the short story.

I want to be careful to avoid calling you a "local author." I understand and accept that you belong to the world. But, of course, you do live in the greater Orlando area. How do you find Orlando in terms of being a literary city?

I'm happy to be an Orlando writer, a local author, a Florida writer, a Southern writer, a realist writer, an experimental writer--I'll take whatever label sticks, I guess because I don't see them as mutually exclusive. Mostly, I just don't want to be called a bad writer. I think that Orlando is a fairly literary city and growing more literary every year. Plus we have more Orlando reading series than you can shake several sticks at. If you can't find four readings a month to go to in this town--and I mean good readings--you just aren't trying very hard.

What, in your opinion, must fall into place in Orlando to help shift the conception of this city in the popular imagination as a “literary” haven?

Unfortunately, I do think that as long as the mouse lives next door, we're going to be overshadowed. I tell people I teach in the MFA program at UCF, and they ask where that is. When I say Orlando, they say, "Oh, like Disney." They don't get that all of the theme parks are not in Orlando proper, not in the City Beautiful. Maybe the trick is to stop worrying overly about making Orlando a haven and to embrace it as our little secret. I'm happy to live here and work here. The weather is terrific. The people are kind. The writers are amazing, and the sense of community is beyond compare. Even living just outside of town in Oviedo, I feel very much a part of the group.

Where do you go to write, either physically or mentally?

I can't write at home. As much as I love my wife and my daughters and my dog, they make it hard to concentrate, so I tend to work at coffeehouses, libraries, and in my UCF office.

Coffee, tea, or trucker speed?

L.A. turnarounds, baby! No, kidding. I do drink coffee. A cup or two in the morning gets me going. The only tea I drink is Throat Coat, and that's for readings. It's great for loosening up the vocal cords before taking the stage.

Write every day, or wait for commandments from the muses?

When I'm at my best, I'm writing every day. If I waited for the muses, I wouldn't get much done. I force myself to write, often when I don't want to, and, on good days, the muses are summoned.

The Heaven of Animals, David James Poissant - Orlando Short StoriesI would say you're a tireless writer. I am always impressed with the rate at which you bring things in to the world. Is there something at your core driving your creative output, something that pushes you to expand or document your vision of people, the world, etc.? Not a secret, but a seed?

I don't believe in writer's block, but I have gone through periods where, for stretches of time, I'm not writing very well. The trick is to keep writing through those stretches, even when you know the work's no good. Because, hey, you can always revise it later. 

One thing I'm never short on, though, is ideas. I don't know where they come from. But I have piles of notes for stories and novels. I wish that my writing was always as good as the ideas seem to be on paper. And I wish that I could write even faster, because I know that I'll never get to write all of these stories before I die.

But, to answer you question: I don't know what the trick is. I don't think of myself as having a particularly vivid imagination. I think that I just see everything as story. Anything that happens, or could happen, to me or to anyone, is ripe with narrative potential. Like, even now, I'm imagining a story in which an interviewer and an interviewee enter a correspondence. And then the correspondence takes a dark turn...

You find a loose string on a shirt you’re fond of. Pull and see what happens, or cut and hope for the best?

Pull. Because, you never know, maybe you'll turn into a butterfly, and haven't you always wanted to fly, and not just in the dreams where you have to get a running start to take off?

I often become annoyed at interview questions that seem, perhaps unwittingly, to belittle an author. Things like, “Your characters are so realistic,” and “I found your book so easy to read.” Is there a question you hate to answer?

Honestly, there isn't. Not yet, and I hope not ever. Truthfully, I'm so honored and humbled that someone would think enough of me or my work to be interested in what I have to say about it that I couldn't possibly be annoyed by many questions. 

I suppose I'm on guard when someone asks why my work is "depressing." I don't think of it as depressing, though I know it can be dark and does tackle tough themes. But death and divorce and sadness are a part of life, and so my stories tackle those topics. I hope to come out on the side of hope and empathy by the end of each of my stories, but the degree to which I do that successfully is determined by each reader on a case-by-case basis, I suppose. But, honestly, I'm truly flattered just to know my work is being read.

The short story collection, as a form, seems to have its naysayers in the publishing and criticism worlds. With The Heaven of Animals, your first full collection, what are your thoughts on short story collections and their place in the world of fiction publishing?

I was on a panel on the short story at the Tucson Festival of Books last week, and Kevin Canty said that he felt that the American short story was enjoying a renaissance, that, indeed, most of the interesting work being done in American arts and letters these days was being done in the story form as opposed to the novel. 

For the most part, I'm inclined to agree with him. The last two winners of the Story Prize, George Saunders' Tenth of December and Claire Vaye Watkins' Battleborn were my favorite books of 2012 and 2013 before they'd even been nominated for the awards, and so here's a case where I feel like even the prize committees are starting to get it right. I think that any good story collection that is positioned and marketed well can do well. I hope that more continue to do well. I love reading story collections.

Three books you’ve read recently that you’d recommend?

Only three? Okay, that makes it harder. But, I loved Rebecca Lee's new story collection, Bobcat (Algonquin 2012). I'm also deeply in love with Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum's debut poetry collection, Ghost Gear (U of Arkansas Press, 2014). And, finally, while I haven't finished it yet, I can't shake the terrifying and gorgeous stories I've read so far in Lydia Millet's Love in Infant Monkeys (Soft Skull, 2009). I'm a latecomer to the Millet party, but I've been hearing about her fiction for years, and I'm thrilled to finally get an eyeful.

How, here in Orlando, can readers who don’t, themselves, write engage with the literary community of Orlando? Is the literary community doing enough to serve them?

They should come to all the readings! What Orlando really needs is a one-stop shop, a single site to which every university and entity can post their upcoming readings so that we don't miss them. 

David James Poissant’s stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, Glimmer Train, The New York Times, One Story, Playboy, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and in the New Stories from the South and Best New American Voices anthologies. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Florida and lives in Orlando with his wife and daughters.

Jared Silvia is a writer, a teacher, and the host of Functionally Literate. His fiction has appeared online with Monkeybicycle and with Annalemma, and in print collections from Burrow Press.